How many times have you heard this question from your little one and again you say “Not right now dear.” Only because you just can’t think of a story to tell?
This happens multiple times a day for me lately. I am thrilled that my little guy wants me to tell him a story and that he wants to listen to what I am saying! I know that story telling can be a wonderful bonding time as well as the skeleton that builds fond childhood memories. It builds a child’s imagination that can be more thrilling than an actual adventure! When I do tell a story I always want to use that time to deposit godly character or godly moral into the story. What a better way to learn from God than through stories? Jesus himself told parables to get his point across.
Well, I asked some ladies on THE HOMESCHOOL LOUNGE what techniques they use to tell stories to their little ones. Below are the responses perhaps they will spark something in your imagination that will begin a wonderful adventure of the mind for you and your children!
My stories always begin with "Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived the most wonderful boy ever and his mommy loved him with all her heart. And one day...."
And it's usually just a re-telling of something we did, or are going to do, or that he has been talking about doing that is exciting to him. He loves volcanoes, so maybe I will tell a story about how one day mommy and daddy packed everyone in the car and drove and drove until we got to a volcano and we ate in a restaurant that floated on the lava lake, and we met his favorite volcanologist...silly stuff like that. Or we dig up dinosaur bones, or go to the beach, etc.
Sometimes I tell a story as if he is inside one of his favorite tv shows. He loves Bob the Builder, so sometimes I will tell a story that one day when we were eating breakfast, Bob showed up and took us all for rides on the machines. Or that we moved to Bobville. Or he meets Frog and Toad. I have other stories about adventures his toys go on when he is asleep.
To be honest, I have never really thought about trying to make a story with a moral - I just want to give him something fantastic to think about while he drifts off to sleep, and so he can have sweet dreams. Just start talking - it'll come to you. Another fun thing to do is tag-team the story with Daddy, so you tell a few sentences, then Daddy tells a few sentences.. If I am drawing a complete blank, I just ask him what he wants a story about. Half the time he tells me some long, drawn out story, and then I just regurgitate it back to him.
A lot of times my girls want to hear what we've come to call "lifetime stories" - anecdotes about my childhood or my husband's or even about their grandparents. Those are fun, and just getting started with the telling often automatically brings back long-forgotten details. Of course, once they hear a particular story, they ask for it again and again! Sometimes it's a struggle ("Not that one! Can't I tell you a different one?"), but kids find great security in those repeated stories - and I've seen how they've become part of what they consider their own personal history, even if it's a story about a grandma. It's cool. :^)
Kind of along the same lines as Tina's response, my children love hearing about the things they did as babies - when they learned to walk, talk, funny "tricks" they did that the others didn't do, etc... I don't necessarily how you could tie morals into those kinds of stories (unless there are obvious ones inherent in the story), but there is definitely value in sharing things about them that were special to you at those times in their lives. And there's value to the teller of these stories, too. Maybe it's just me, but I used to think that I would never forget ANYTHING about either of my precious babies, but 11 years and 4 kids later, I have to think really hard to remember which one even walked when!
Yes, my kids also love to hear about their own "pre-memory" years...especially their birth stories. They've gotten to the point where they now say, "Oh, yes, I remember how hard your tummy squeezed to get me out!" or "I remember blinking at the bright light as soon as I came out," and they truly think they remember because we've told the stories so often. And, yes, it really does help me to remember what I don't want to forget, too.
For Bible Stories, I made up a list of ones I wanted to cover, then each night I read over and prepare one for the next day. I find telling the stories works SO much better than reading them--I can do it over a meal and it really grabs their attention.
I have over the past few years built up a few folk tales that are easy to retell and we do those over and over (that's the beauty of told stories). You can tell the ones that were meant to be told like this--they have a lot of repetition to make it easy to do:
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The Three Little Pigs
The Little Red Hen
The Old Woman and the Pig
(These mostly may not seem to have a great moral, but they really are a sort of life-lessons course in caution, courage, diligence, resourcefulness, and danger--very appropriate for 3-5 year olds who are just starting to encounter the big, scary world out there and need an imaginary vehicle to help them deal with and prepare for it. Then again, some of them are just for fun.)
I want to add in a few more historical/biographical stories--like William Tell and the Apple, etc. I try to introduce holidays this way (e.g. Thanksgiving, Lincoln's Birthday). I figure at this age the spirit of the story is more important than detailed historical accuracy. But I haven't done as much there as I would like.
Family stories are really good, too!
I used to be able to make up stories, but like you, my brain doesn't seem to work that way anymore. Too many other demands on it, I suppose.
yes story telling is so much fun! the kids anticipation!!! the big eyes waiting for what happens next!
my dad is a fantastic story teller, so when the kids visit him they always ask for stories!! and even now that they are grown up they love to hear stories! and i still love to visit my dad and hear stories!